Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Have You Applied For a Summer Internship?

By Kelsey McWilliams, junior journalism major at CU-Boulder

Summer is four months away, so you’ve got plenty of time left to think about your plans… right? While you do still have a bit of time, your summer internship search should begin NOW if you haven’t yet started. At the very least you should start thinking about what you would like to do this summer: take classes, travel, get a job or pursue an internship. If you choose the latter, begin researching companies so that you can figure out where you would like to apply.

Who do I want to work for?
Begin your search by researching companies that you might be interested in working for. Look at a wide variety of options, and don’t be afraid to pursue positions that may not fit perfectly with your major. Your qualifications are your most important asset; so many companies don’t care as much about your major as long as you seem to fit the part.

What the heck am I going to do about money this summer!?
While we would all love to get paid as an intern, don’t limit yourself by judging positions based on the salary. Unpaid internships show future employers that you are dedicated to work rather than just to making money. You can often get course credit for unpaid internships, so make sure to research the company and your university’s policies before applying. In addition, you can never predict the opportunities that can come from an unpaid internship. Last summer my friend had an unpaid internship that turned into him making $15/hour because of the work ethic he demonstrated throughout the course of the internship. Many employers are also looking to hire interns for full-time positions after they graduate college, so an unpaid internship could potentially turn into your dream job!

Where do I want to be?
As you continue to search for internships, decide where you want to be. Open your mind to the possibility of living away from home this summer. As much as you will miss mom’s cooking and reunions with your high school friends, there are endless opportunities across the nation and abroad that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Worried about housing? Universities across the country have housing programs that allow interns to live in their dorms and apartments for the summer. Some larger companies will even provide housing for their interns, so look into that option as you research potential employers.

When should I apply?
In today’s competitive job market it is important to be timely and make yourself stand out. Start putting together your application materials (cover letter, resume, writing samples, etc.) NOW, so that you’ll have plenty of time to contact companies you’d like to work for. The internship search process is not one that should be rushed, and you’ll need plenty of time to ensure that you find the right company for you.

Why should I intern this summer?
You may feel like you’re not ready for an internship, but it’s never too early to start looking. Freshman, getting an internship after your first year of college will make you stand out among other applicants as you continue to pursue jobs in the future. Sophomores and juniors, you are the target age group that employers are looking to recruit for internships. They’re looking for you, so help them out and apply for internship positions! Seniors, many of you believe that you’re too old for internships, but this is absolutely not the case. According to internships.com, 83% of employers consider applications from recent graduates. Furthermore, 69% of large companies made full-time job offers to interns in 2012, so a summer internship could be a solution for your job search difficulties. Interns of all ages have a leg up on last year’s applicants because 53% of companies plan to hire more interns in 2013 than they did in 2012. Internships are a great way to gain real world experience that will help you years down the road, so hurry up and start applying!

How do I apply?
Through Career Services, of course! Create an account on Career Buffs, our online job and internship database, so that you can start searching. Right now there are more than 400 active internships in our system, many of which are for summer!

Now that we've filled you in on the who, what, where, when, why and how of internships, it's time to get to work. If you're looking for a little extra guidance before you start your search, schedule an appointment with one of our career counselors.